Conventional CSAs are great in theory, but they present challenges for the consumer and the farmer. Consumers find that a typical share requires a great deal of commitment - weekly pick up and willingness to adapt your menu each week. Farmers find it a challenge to make everyone happy and grow exactly enough food.
Our hybrid, FarmBucks, allows us - the farmers, and you - the consumers, to get the benefits of a CSA and therefore everyone will be happier and healthier!
Important Updates for 2013:
- If you opt to renew your FarmBucks during the year you will renew at the current rate, not the original rate.
- Extra FarmBucks left at the end of the year will be used to donate vegetables to a local charity.
- 2012 FarmBucks customers can refer a new customer and get a $10 credit!
Scroll down to skip the text and just buy your FarmBucks!
When exploring the marketing options for the vegetables, we came up with an alternative to the Farmers Market and CSA models. The Farmers Market requires the farmer to pick and transport a pre-determined quantity of produce, thereby incurring waste because you can never gauge the exact market in a given week. The other option, CSAs, allow the farmer to plan down to the last tomato how much to grow and harvest, but it doesn’t allow for production variations. In this model customers purchase a ‘share’ at the beginning of the season and agree to take whatever is produced each week. Some customers find that the quantity and contents don’t match their family’s eating habits, resulting in wasted food each week.
Our alternative is Farm Bucks. Customers can opt in by purchasing a credit, at a discount, to use at our weekly farmstand. Your early purchase helps us by providing the capital we need to purchase seeds and provide labor to plant the crops. You benefit by getting a discount on your weekly vegetable shopping. Additionally, you purchase what you like… that means if you like tomatoes you can just buy tomatoes each week. If you dislike kale, you never have to buy it (even though it is REALLY good for you!). If you go on vacation for the month of July, you can use your credit before and after your travels without worrying about finding someone to pick up your share. If you like to preserve your favorite foods you can purchase large quantities of those items.
We do operate like a CSA in that we don't have every vegetable every week. Given our small scale, we grow single harvest foods (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli) in batches, so the window of availability may be short, but quantities are large. We'll let you know via email what is most seasonal and abundant, encouraging you to choose those foods first.
There are extra perks for our FarmBucks members. The biggest perk being the opportunity to pre-order your vegetables each week. When you get our weekly email on the weekend, just send a message with your shopping list for the week. This ensures that you get first dibs on items that are limited in quantity and gives you the best selection even if you can't make it to the farm when we open the farmstand at 3pm. You will also get first chance to buy tickets for our Farm-to-Table Harvest Dinners. Dates coming soon. As we get to know our FarmBucks members, we find ways to add value and reward you for your loyalty.
Using 3 acres (up from 3/4 acre) of land at Meadowbrook Farm, we will grow and sell vegetables right at the farm. Each week, we will open our farmstand on Thursdays from 3 – 6pm. We’ll pre-harvest some veggies, but if we run out you can take a walk to the field with us to get more. Occasionally we’ll supplement our harvest with vegetables from other local producers. In 2012 our season ran from June 1st through Dec. 20th. We expect to open in mid-April in 2013.
Are you organic?
We follow organic growing practices by avoiding synthetic inputs, but we have not been certified organic by the USDA. If you are concerned about a particular chemical or crop, just ask us what our growing practices have been. Folks often ask if we spray our vegetables and the answer is yes - we spray with something called fish emulsion (yep, it is as gross as it sounds), garlic spray, powdered milk, soap and other organic sprays as necessary to fertilize and control pests.
Can I help on the farm?
Absolutely! We periodically have work days to accomplish tasks that go faster with many hands. We also send emergency requests, such as the time in 2012 when a 300 foot row of tomatoes blew over in a storm and we needed help re-staking them on a Sunday morning. If you want to be on the Farm Helpers email list, just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I work for food?
Absolutely! We have work shares, approximately a $600 credit for 6 hours/week of work for 6 months. If you have time, love to get dirty, and love fresh veggies, let us know. Again, send a message: email@example.com
How much will I spend/eat?
There are several factors to consider:
In 2012 we had customers who live alone or had a small family and spent $250 over the course of the year. We also had vegetarian families who love to cook who spent $1000 at the farmstand. And we had families in between.
What if I don't use all my FarmBucks?
FarmBucks are good for the calendar year in which they were purchased. There are no refunds and credits do not carry forward. Remember that our season runs until December which gives you the opportunity to use your FarmBucks to purchase pumpkins and stock up on winter squash as well. In 2013 we will add the option of donating extra FarmBucks towards vegetables to be donated to a local charity.
What if I run out of FarmBucks?
You have two options. First, purchase more FarmBucks for the current price, not the early sign-up amount (note this is different for 2013 than it was in 2012). Or, you can come and shop with cash until the end of the year.
What if I can't make it on Thursday afternoons?
We make several attempts to accommodate your schedule. Here are some ways we helped customers in the past:
What else is there to do while we are at the farm?
While you are at the farm, you can feed the chickens, see what is growing, visit with your neighbors and take part in one of Emily Piper’s Farm Art programs. Each week Emily (aka Mrs. Junkbox of Rumphius Creativity Unhinged) will host an Art class using a wide range of media and subjects to create farm-theme artwork. These classes are appropriate for adults & children. We also offer hands on learning programs for your pre-school and school-age children and sponsor family events as well.
What can I do now?
How do I join?
There are two ways to pay - below by credit card or you can mail a check. Checks are preferable because they save us the credit card processing fees.
If paying by check, make it payable to Elizabeth Almeida and mail it to 41 West St, Westford, MA 01886 or bring it to the farmstand when we are open.
FarmBucks Early Bird $250 Credit for $230.
FarmBucks Early Bird $600 Credit for $550.
FarmBucks Early Bird $1000 Credit for $920.
Please send an email to info@Healthylivingandlearning.com if you have any difficulty with the online payment.
Let us know via email if you refer a friend who joins our FarmBucks program and we'll give you a $10 credit as a way to say thank you. Our online purchase system doesn't allow for extra questions, so we'll need to do this step via email. firstname.lastname@example.org Or bring a friend with you the next time you visit the farm!